Brockport heads to the Northeast Popular Culture Conference!

By Julia Zdrojewski

The Dance Department at The College at Brockport was well represented October 25th-26th at the Northeast Popular Culture Association in Conference held at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

I had the privilege of attending the Popular Culture Conference with fellow graduate student, Allison Bohman, as well as dance faculty members Nicole Kaplan, Karl Rogers and Dr. Maura Keefe. NEPCA was first founded in 1974 and its intentions include advancing research and promoting dialogues around popular and/or American culture.

Nicole, Allison and I left for Vermont in the early afternoon on Friday and were able to soak in a little bit of Vermont later in the evening while driving around the busy streets of Colchester and Burlington; full of restaurants and pedestrians walking around. The weather may have been cold that weekend, but Vermont itself was beautiful, making the scenic drive enjoyable.

The next morning was devoted to the conference- finding Saint Michaels College, registering and reading our papers over one last time before reading them aloud to graduate students, independent scholars and faculty members from a variety of schools around the country. I read my paper during the first dance panel of the day, along with a scholar from Boston College. Afterwards, Dr. Maura Keefe, who also acted as the moderator for the dance panels, led a discussion about our research independently, as well as how they were connected (my research was on feminism in dance and my fellow panelist discussed the punk values of mosh pits). Listening to other papers was an interesting and insightful experience, and I enjoyed meeting, connecting and networking with individuals from around the country who are invested in their research about dance just as much as I am.

In addition to sharing my own writing, I was also able to listen to the work of my peers. Allison Bohman spoke of the geopolitics and gestures present in Nazi Germany, while Nicole Kaplan read a paper about her experience choreographing for Brockport’s chapter of One Billion Rising. In addition, Nicole was able to share media from the event, so that those who were present for her panel could physically see the event that she was describing in detail. This panel also featured Dr. Barbara LeSavoy, from the Women and Gender Studies Department at Brockport. Dr. LeSavoy read a paper about her experience with One Billion Rising as well, which took place on February 14th of this past year to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Attending the conference this year was a really wonderful experience. My peers and I were able to share the research that we have worked hard on, hear papers from other dance researchers from around the country, and talk with scholars about one another’s work. While the weekend went quickly, it felt full of experiences that I am grateful for as a graduate student representing the Dance Department at The College at Brockport.

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Returning to the Familiar

Current MFA graduate student, Morgan Bernat, recently took the time to write about her experience coming back to the Department of Dance at The College at Brockport after graduating as an undergrad in 2012. Read all about her experience here:

Preparing myself to return to Brockport as a graduate student wasn’t something I took a lot of time to mull over. My fear was that if I reflected too much on what I knew, I wouldn’t be giving myself a fair chance to experience Brockport in a fresh light. Most people have asked me why I chose to return to a program I had already fully experienced as an undergrad. My decision was based off of a combination of things, stemming from a memory. I remember this feeling I had on graduation day as I was supposed to be saying good-bye to the faculty. I felt like my process wasn’t finished at Brockport yet, and saying good-bye didn’t make any sense. I knew that I wasn’t finished with all that Brockport had to offer. When looking at various grad programs, I chose to go about the process similarly to the way I currently make work; go with my gut and where my logic leads me. My logic continually led me back to Brockport.

Reflecting back on my first half of a semester it’s been a whirlwind consumed with hectic schedules, rehearsals, auditions and figuring out what kind of student I am at this point in my life. Although it’s been a year since I left, I felt like my year spent being a “real human” versus a student allowed me the time to appreciate the process of learning. There was at first a sense of familiarity that I experienced upon my return, but I refused to let myself ride that. I’m beginning a master’s degree, a process that is going to be far more soaked in the art form I’m choosing to make a career of. I think it was a concern for some people that I would be returning to a faculty I had grown to know and become familiar with. That was a concern of mine as well, but my audition silenced that concern. I took class with Karl Rogers, who I had taken class with most recently before graduating, and I found the context of the class to be fresh and new, just as it would be when taking class from someone I didn’t know previously. It was in that moment my gut feeling was victorious; this was the place I needed to be. During my undergrad graduation, I knew that my journey at Brockport wasn’t finished. Now I can experience the satisfaction of discovering what it means to pursue dance at the graduate level in a place I can confidently call home.

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Undergraduates Write about the Fringe!

For each of their dance history courses, professors Maura Keefe and Karl Rogers asked their students to attend an event at The Rochester Fringe Festival and write a blog post about what they saw. All of the students handed in work that contained a unique style or voice, and was full of detailed dance writing explaining what they experienced.

Four undergraduate students had their work chosen to share on our blog. Check out their excerpts below:

On September 21st I saw Juxtapose presents: Bag of Tricks. It was an incredible show that was entertaining for all audiences. Each piece not only had cool props, but also incredible, gorgeous dancers. The first piece was a trio with funky costumes, balloons that covered the floor, and captivating movement qualities. I found it surprising and entertaining when the balloons would pop while the dancers were moving through the space. Next, were two fierce solos. The first soloist had impeccable technique and extensions that could go on for days. The antique lamp was pretty cool too- not gonna lie I think it’d look great in my dorm room! The second soloist took the stage with an intense focus and drew the audience in with her fascinating choreography incorporating a deck of cards and a fan. The closing piece was a quintet that involved a bunch of origami cootie catchers spread on the floor. The choreography was specific and eye catching. One dancer would be turning and BAM a leg would be in the air out of nowhere. I thought the entire show was very entertaining and I’d love to see it again.

-Baylee Simpson, on Bag of Tricks
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Sometimes you forget how talented your friends are.

On the first Saturday of the second annual Rochester Fringe Festival, I had the privilege of scoring a free ticket for Articulated Vulnerability as the photographer/videographer. I couldn’t be more excited to be able to have a small role in the night that premiered the works of two of the best dance dudes in my life, Brett Cox and Zach Frazee.

The word of the night was proud. I was proud each time I saw a faculty member enter the RAPA theatre to support their students. I was proud the second the two smartly dressed choreographers took the stage to introduce the evening, my heart swelling all too sentimentally. I was proud with each step the dancers took, with each embodied complex rhythm, with each execution of a smart choreographic choice. I was proud every time I had to fix the levels on my video camera, just to compensate for the sheer volume of the audience’s supportive roars. I felt proud to know the people who were on the stage as well as backstage, so ridiculously proud to be part of a community of dancers who not only loved what they did, but cared about other people who shared that love, too.

-Florianne Jalac, on Articulate Vulnerability
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The entire performance was extraordinary and I don’t just mean the performers movements. As everyone stared up at this building a mood was created that felt like we were all watching the gods interact. We looked up at these mortals and admired them, speechless like we were something less than human. I’m not sure if it was because I was constantly looking up at them, or what they were doing was incredible that made me see them as something godly, but whatever it was, I enjoyed being lost in the moment watching these people challenge physics with dance and dance alone.

-Grant Pastori, on BANDALOOP
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The first performance entitled We Too Cling was the first ever modern dance I had ever seen and I’m glad it was. Keopke and Rogers took the roles of two twentieth century artists in a way I never would’ve expected. The conversation between the two was shown through movement and evolution. When they spun to fast, classical music at the start I was impressed by the accuracy of their unity and their ability to complete partner lifts in an effortless manner. I know I couldn’t have done so in such a way. They played with the shadows and even props that were a surprise to the audience. Their strength and congeniality shined when posing on the chairs, (sometimes even upside down might I add)! Also, who would’ve thought cardboard shapes strapped to the dancers’ arms could make for such a great ending. The mood instantly lightened as they pounded their feet to the music and smiled as they danced. They shifted their weight back and forth with extreme balance and skill. Keopke and Rogers ritually repeated movements in unison while enjoying dancing to a classic rock song. I was smiling wide and I never expected to be so entertained after the first dance.

-Madison Hornug, on The Goldilocks Score & Other Dances

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Upcoming Conference on Music for Dance

The Dance Department at The College at Brockport is always providing students and community members with great learning opportunities. Check out the information below on a wonderful conference coming to the Department October 10th-13th:

Digital Technology has evolved at a rapid pace. In music for dance, there are new ways to generate sound in performance and in the studio, new ways to connect remotely for collaborative projects, and new ways to preserve and present research. Therefore, it is important for scholars in the field to have critical dialogues about these changes.

Through a generous grant from the State University of New York’s Conversations in the Disciplines Program, The College at Brockport’s Assistant Professor and Music Director for Dance Tamara Wilcox is proud to be working with The International Guild of Musicians in Dance to present Digital Tranformations in Music For Dance: International Dialogues, providing a forum for critical inquiry and extended discourse among SUNY Faculty and visiting scholars from non-SUNY Institutions who hold academic positions and work in the field of music for concert dance.

Join the conversations and…
• Examine the transformative impact in relationships between music and dance both in the studio and on the stage bought about through digital innovations in sound generation and vastly expanded internet-based file sharing capability’s.
• Review ways in which new technologies enhance archival, historical and ethnographic research in the field of music for dance
• Address developments in remote collaborations and engagement (Telematics)
• Acquaint those in the field of music in dance with the latest trends in collaboration, including the use of laptops and iPads in place of traditional acoustic instruments in the studio and on the stages.
• Discuss any and all possible challenges to integrating this new technology in order to facilitate positive technological advancements within the SUNY system and beyond for the benefit of ongoing vitality of the art forms for both music and dance
• Investigate the scholarly relevance of innovations in music for dance.
AND
• Inspire and inform musicians, dancers and departments of music and dance to work towards partnerships and collaborations for their mutual benefit and the benefit of scholarship, creativity, and the ongoing and vital culture of the arts in New York State and beyond.

The College at Brockport campus acts as a natural magnet for young, talented, and creative people and is a major source for arts-and-culture programming that makes life richer for everyone and connects us to one another as no device or social network ever can. Join the many other stewards of our communities’ arts and cultural heritages on OCTOBER 10th through the 13th 2013 here at The College at Brockport to discuss efforts to development of a new creative economy.

For MORE information including registration (on-site OR via live webcast), reservations and program schedules please visit http://www.igomid.camp9.org
OR
Contact Tamara Wilcox directly at twilcox@brockport.edu and at 585-395-2461

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Undergrads Discuss Premiering Their Work at the Fringe Fest

Friends of Brockport Dance Blog editor and graduate student, Julia Zdrojewski, recently discussed the process of creating work for the Rochester Fringe Festival with BFA students Brett Cox and Zachary Frazee. Together they talked about creating new work and forming their choreographic voices all while handling a full schedule of undergraduate classes at The College of Brockport. Check out the conversation here:

Julia Zdrojewski (JZ): This year marks the second annual Rochester Fringe Festival; ten days of art that is seen all over the city of Rochester. How did you both decide to get involved in the festival this time around, and what did the beginning of your creative process look like?

Zachary Frazee (ZF): Brett and I began the process of developing and organizing our show, Articulated Vulnerability, this past spring semester. We went through the application process, and were able to use RAPA Theatre as our performance space, which has been very helpful throughout the entire process of preparing and planning.

The piece of work that my dancers and I developed is titled Turbulent Perfection, and it is a mixture of contemporary ballet and minimalism. I decided to work with a cast of four extraordinary dancers, all of whom have assisted me in the process of creating movement and setting choreography.

Brett Cox (BC): Articulated Vulnerability started as a chance for the two of us to showcase our work outside of Brockport. We were both looking to expand our choreographic voices and eager to begin this large task.

For my process, my dancers and I began with a lot of improvisation set to task (or sometimes no task at all) to build and create movement. From these tasks, we began setting work over the course of three weeks. The work that the dancers and I came to create is entitled Hopes and Past Desires. This piece looks at what our basic principles are as human beings, and brings them to the surface, expressing our innermost hopes and our darkest desires.

JZ: What are some similarities or differences that you can tell our readers about your choreographic styles?

BC: I have a deep love for Zachary’s artistic talent and an incredible respect for what he values in his dancers. Although one could classify his style as contemporary ballet and my own choreographic voice as more modern, the two styles we present blend together creating a through-line that is easily accessible for the audience.

ZF: Brett and I have very different choreographic styles and tastes, but our pieces still seem to relate in the sense that they both portray the rawness, complexity and simplicity of what it is to be truly human.

Brett is someone who I deeply respect and appreciate as a friend and artist; so being able to present ourselves as professionals in the dance world together has been a great experience.

JZ: What have your schedules been like in preparing for the performance this weekend?

ZF: Even though the process of creating our own show and premiering our choreography has been an exciting process, it has not been easy. On top of having to plan and choreograph an hour-long show in just three weeks, we also have had to balance our schedules as full time BFA students at The College at Brockport, as well as extracurricular activities shared between us. It required a team effort on the part of the dancers, Brett and myself, but I am very grateful for this opportunity and cannot wait for everyone to see the show.

BC: It was a lot of work to juggle the many jobs of being company directors, as well as a full time students, but we truly took it upon ourselves to make a show that we can call our own, and are excited about this opportunity to premiere our work for an audience this weekend.

Articulated Vulnerability is taking place on Saturday, September 21st 8:30pm
RAPA Theatre (Rochester Association of Performing Arts)
$8/ticket

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The Duets Project: Exploring The Relationships of Two Dancers

By Allison Bohman

This past weekend, The College at Brockport had the amazing opportunity of hosting The Duets Project, an exploration of the duet form.  Each of these works was performed and choreographed by renowned artists from around the country.  In fact, each of the five pieces was danced by at least one faculty member from the Brockport dance department and a partner of their choice.  This show featured the talent and artistry of six Brockport faculty members in all.

Opening the performance was a duet choreographed by Stephen Koster and danced beautifully by Karl Rogers and Meghan Durham Wall.  “The Surrogate Dance” (2012) featured these vigorous dancers as they explored space, each other, and what it means to be a dancer in a youthful body.  They moved to oral text recorded by Koster himself.  Rogers, a faculty member here at Brockport, and Durham Wall, had incredible chemistry on stage.  Later in the evening’s program, this duo also performed together in Lisa Race’s “Thaw” (2010, revised 2012).  This work exemplified movement that featured the athleticism, and an honest relationship between Rogers and Durham Wall.  Perhaps what stood out the most about this duet was the uniqueness of their relationship to one another—they appeared to have been dancing together forever and as an audience, we were lucky to see them together twice through this program.

The second piece in the program, “Danzon A La Playa” (2013), showcased the outstanding rhythmic and performative qualities of faculty members, Bill Evans and Cheryl Johnson.  As they soft-shoe tap danced in sand boxes filled with black and red sand on stage, the audience was pulled in to the intriguing rhythmic patterns and changing sound qualities of dancing on top of sand.  The music offered a Spanish mood to the piece and Richard DeLaney brilliantly played the piano live, exemplifying the connection between dance and music collaboration.  Later in the evening, Bill Evans appeared once again with Brockport faculty member, Don Halquist, both looking sharp in full dress suits.  This work, choreographed by Claire Porter and Sabatino Verlezza entitled, “See You Around” (2008) was definitely a crowd pleaser.  Evans and Halquist were not only dynamic as a duet, but the subtle moments of humor found within their movement and dialogue also invited the audience to see how dance, can in fact be highly theatrical.

Concluding the program was “Love Flight Of A Pink Candy Heart: Study #1” (2013), which featured Irene Hultman, in movement dialogue with Brockport faculty member, Mariah Maloney.  These women eloquently moved through space, interacted with each other and explored the how their bodies moved.  The attention to detail in this piece was especially striking—while one dancer focused on just the intricacies of the hand, the other was utilizing a much larger exploration of space as a whole, until they came together and allowed their bodies to dance with each other.

While watching dance in the duet form, it is difficult not to automatically search for some sort of relationship between the two bodies on stage.  As humans, we are inclined to ask questions.  Who are they?  What is the relationship between these dancers?  Why are they moving together?  Why are they not making eye contact?  Even if the choreographer did not establish a specific relationship, it is the job of the audience member to bring their own experiences and perspectives to the table.  The Duets Project at Brockport was truly a unique opportunity for audiences to see the dynamics of dance in duet form—man and woman, man and man, woman and woman.  The pieces in the program offered strong examples of the diversity in relationships that dance could explore.

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Upcoming Workshops at The College at Brockport

The Dance Department here at The College at Brockport has two exciting workshops coming up in the month of September! Both of these workshops provide members of the community opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary experiences with dance. For dates, locations and registration details, check out the information below…

Also, don’t forget about The Duets Project, an adjudicated concert featuring faculty performers today Friday, September 6 at 4 and 7:30. Tickets are available online at fineartstix.brockport.edu

AFRO-CUBAN DRUM & DANCE WORKSHOP
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Hartwell Hall
Register for FREE online: http://afrocubanatbrockport.weebly.com

The College at Brockport will be hosting its first Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Workshop. Students and community members of all ages are welcome. Classes will focus on African traditions that were maintained and evolved on the island of Cuba. Experience a full day of Afro-Cuban intensive dance and percussion studies led by world-class artists from Toronto and the greater Rochester area. Study many of the rich Afro-Cuban traditions, including Yoruba, Arara, Carabali and Rumba – the national music and dance of Cuba. Dance classes are accompanied by live music. Drums are available for those that register in advance. All levels of musicians and dancers are welcome. Sign up to experience a full day of extraordinary Afro-Cuban music and dance.

This event is sponsored by the College at Brockport’s Diversity Committee, the Sankofa African Dance and Music Ensemble, the SUNY College at Brockport Departments of Dance, African & African-American Studies, Anthropology, Theater and Music, and Modern Languages and Cultures.

MATH DANCE WORKSHOP FOR EDUCATORS
Saturday, September 21st, 2013, 10:00 am
Hartwell Hall

As Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Designated Teaching Artists and authors of a successful book on the subject of math and dance integration, Karl and Erik of the Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern Dance Ensemble will lead a participatory, accessible workshop that shows teachers how to integrate mathematics and dance into their classrooms and studios. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to learn from professional dancers/choreographers who draw from their backgrounds in math and science. Save the date for this exciting workshop so you can learn more about the “secret life of squares.” Professional teaching credit certificates for 5.5 contact hours will be made available to participants.

Registration: 9:30-1:00 pm

1st Workshop: 10:00 – Noon;
2nd Workshop: 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Can sign up for one or both workshop classes

Workshop fees include a box lunch—
Professional: $25
Student rate: $5
(Checks or money orders should be made to Brockport Foundation)

To register for the Math Dance Workshop, click on the following link:
Math Dance Workshop

This event is sponsored by the College at Brockport’s Interdisciplinary Arts for Children Program, the Department of Dance and the New York State Dance Education Association.

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Brockport at the Fringe!

The second annual Rochester Fringe Festival kicks off Thursday, September 19th with 360 performances at 28 venues over 10 days. Brockport dancers, alumni, and faculty are boasting a decidedly strong presence at this historic event in the Rochester arts scene! With affordable ticket prices, including many free shows, downtown will be the place to see and be seen for the dance community.

For more shows and details, check out: http://rochesterfringe.com

Articulated Vulnerability
Saturday Sept. 21, 8:30pm
$8 at RAPA Theatre (Rochester Association of Performing Arts)
(Featuring the work of current BFA students, Brett Cox and Zach Frazee)

Bag of Tricks
Saturday Sept. 21, 5pm
$8 at MuCCC Theatre (Multi-use Cultural Community Center)
(Featuring the work of MFA graduate, Juliana Utz and MFA graduate/ current faculty member, Nicole Kaplan)

Bill Evans Dance Company
Sunday Sept. 22, 2pm & 4pm
$15 at Eastman School of Music: New Rehearsal Hall
billevansdance.org

Heather Roffee Dance and James Hansen Assemblage Dance Present:
Merged- A Dance Concert
Wednesday Sept. 25, 6pm; Friday Sept. 27, 5:30pm; Saturday Sept. 2, 12pm
$16 at The Geva Theatre Center Nextstage

Mariah Maloney Dance
Thursday Sept. 19, 8pm; Sunday Sept. 22, 6:30pm
$12 at The TheatreROCS Stage at Xerox Auditorium
mariahmaloneydance.com

Red Dirt Dance Presents: The Goldilocks Score and Other Dances
Thursday & Friday September 19 & 20, 6pm
$16 at the Geva Theatre Center Next stage
(Featuring the work of faculty member, Karl Rogers)
reddirtdance.com

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Dancing, Sweating, Bowling, Creating, and Smiling: Doug Varone and Dancers 14th Annual Summer Workshop

By Angie Muzzy

Over 50 participants from around the world came to The College at Brockport’s Department of Dance to study for three weeks with Doug Varone and Dancers. I was fortunate enough to be one of them. Allow me to guide you through a typical day, first take an 8am Pilates class (optional) with DOVA (acronym for the nonprofit dance company) dancer Erin Owen then head right into technique taught by one of the 8 members of the company rotating each teacher every two days, without any hesitation go straight into the phrasework class. The main objectives learn movement QUICKLY and REMEMBER it! This too is taught by all members of the company and Doug rotating every two days. After the hour brain tease it is off to lunch where participants are able to sit in Strasser Studio and watch Doug Varone process through the creation of a new work. Then it is on to either Ballet with Rachel List or Improvisation with Keith Johnson. (I took improv) And finally, the last and certainly the most exciting class of the day, electives. Five were offered, Small Rep (excerpts), Large Rep, New Work, Performance Technique and Choreographic Devices.
Most nights consisted of Doug and the company showcasing pieces and discussing the process of how a particular piece was made such as Mouth Above Water 2013, Carrugi 2012, or Rise 1993, learning Baroque dance from Rachel List, taking over Brockport Bowl, chats with company members: Alex, Colin, Eddie, Erin, Hollis, Hsiao Jou, Julia & Xan, sharing what the participants were working on in their elective classes, improv jams, pot lucks and genuinely having a good time watching, talking and moving throughout the three weeks.
This New York City Company will be back next summer and I highly recommend taking this workshop. Doug Varone has been making work for over 25 years and he is very articulate about his artistry. For example he shared in the choreographic devices class that his pieces always have the following elements: musicality, architecture, gesture, and humanity.
Check out http://www.dougvaroneanddancers.org/ to locate tour dates, and see them live if you can!

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Bill Evans Teachers’ Intensive

By Bethany Fagan

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the 37th Annual Bill Evans Summer Institute of Dance, hosted at The College of Brockport. Formatted as a Teacher’s Intensive, it brought together dance educators from all over. The intensive began with a bang – opening with the Bill Evans and Friends Summer Dance Concert II, featuring works from across the country, before heading into a full week.

Throughout the week there was such a breadth and depth of information presented through basic Bartenieff Fundamentals patterning, Laban-Based Modern Technique and Laban-Based Ballet. Participants were also offered the opportunity to dig deeper into Laban concepts with William Evans and MFA candidate Colleen Culley before heading to an evening Pedagogy Seminar with Don Halquist. Each of these classes folded into one another as the information presented by Evans and Culley supported and encouraged the movement experiences provided by Evans and the rest of the intensive’s teaching faculty (Cadence Whittier, Heather Acomb, and Vanessa Van Wormer).

While I know that my dancing and teaching will forever be influenced by the events of this week’s classes, it is the generosity and openness of all whom were present that I will carry with me everyday. Within hours of being together, we had created our own dancing community – a community that supported one another while being generous with knowledge, both given and received. It was a judgment-free intensive; we all were able to move and speak freely without fear.

This coupling of allowing openness and care, while also supporting internal reflecting and connectivity, is what made the intensive so powerful. Yes, the week began with a room full of adept dancers and educators with beautiful souls, but by the end of the week it was the souls that were shining through in movement – it was these souls who made the week-long experience so wonderful for each participant. It is no wonder that each summer dancers and educators keep coming back for this experience, an opportunity for growing relationships and integrating movement.

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